Iraqi leaders are condemning Israels attack on Qana, Lebanon that reportedly killed at least 56 civilians. Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shia, has accused Israel of carrying out "massacres." President Jalal Talabani, a Sunni Kurd, called the Qana attack a "crime" and also called for an immediate halt to the fighting. Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, also a Sunni Kurd, said the events in Lebanon will "undoubtedly" impact Iraq.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's leading cleric, called for an immediate ceasefire as well and said, "Islamic nations will not forgive the entities that hinder a ceasefire." One of those nations, of course, is the one that's currently occupying al-Sistani's country.
Though Israel promised to halt air strikes for 48 hours, it resumed bombing in southern Lebanon on Monday. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz told his parliament that "It's forbidden to agree to an immediate cease-fire" and "Israel will expand and strengthen its activities against the Hezbollah."
Condoleeza Rice, having failed to accomplish anything of substance during her piano concert tour of the Middle East is headed for home, which is just as well. If we'd wanted to a musician to broker a peace, we should have sent Bono.
But guess who's not coming home. 3,700 troops of the 172nd Stryker Brigade have been extended in the Iraq theater of war for another 120 days. On Friday, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed that U.S. troop levels increased last week from 127,000 to 132,000. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi has "agreed" to a joint US-Iraq military operation involving 75 thousand troops to regain control of Baghdad. Apparently, it's a concern in some circles that 75 thousand troops won't be enough to get the job done.
The promise of a stable, democratized Middle East the neoconservatives made when they seduced America into supporting an invasion of Iraq has turned into the mother of all quagmires. It's tempting to dismiss the actions of the Bush administration as the fumbling of incompetent ideologues, but there's reason to suspect that things in the Middle East are going exactly as planned. This from Stephen Lendman of the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center:
On July 26, Aljazeerah reported a story headlined - "Israeli invasion of Lebanon planned by neocons in June (2006)." It was done at a June 17 and 18 meeting at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado at which former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud Knesset member Natan Sharansky met with US Vice President Dick Cheney. The purpose was to discuss the planned and impending Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invasions of Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. Cheney was thoroughly briefed and approved the coming assaults--before Hamas' capture of an IDF soldier on June 25 or Hezbollah's capturing of two others in an exchange first reported as occurring in Israel and now believed to have happened inside Lebanon after IDF forces illegally entered the country.
Following the Colorado meeting, Netanyahu returned to Israel for a special "Ex-Prime Ministers" meeting in which he conveyed the message of US support to carry out the "Clean Break" policy officially ending all past peace accords including Oslo. At the meeting in Israel in addition to Binyamin Netanyahu were current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres.
Okay. This comes to us from a liberal U.S. publication quoting information put out by a Muslim news service. But given what we've seen of the Bush administration so far, how far-fetched does the notion of Uncle Dick giving a thumbs-up for the Israelis to expand the scope of hostilities in the Middle East really seem?
Lendman also describes how the "Clean Break" policy intends to expand the scope of Middle Eastern armed conflict to Syria and Iran, something that jibes with the overtones of the Bush administration's rhetoric over the past weeks.
This Just In
Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just announced that "there will be no ceasefire." There's no way of knowing whether Dick Cheney blessed this statement, but Cheney and Olmert sure have a lot in common. Both of these political leaders had "better things to do" in their youths than fight in their countries' wars, but they're enthusiastic about committing their countries' youths to a never-ending war now.
And frighteningly, there seems to be no way to stop them from doing it.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.